Katie Taylor: “It was always going to be a tough contest, Ireland against Great Britain. I couldn’t let her beat me.”
“I’ve never experienced an atmosphere like this before. I knew it was going to be great but it took me by surprise a small bit. It’s a privilege to box for them, as well as my country”
Natasha Jonas: “I’m not going to make any excuses, she’s still the best, she comes out on top every time,” the Liverpudlian said.
“There is nothing else I could do. I could have maybe thrown the kitchen sink at her, I could have maybe driven a bus into her.”
Yes this was a great day to be Irish at the ExCeL Centre in London Docklands. From early morning the Irish fans headed for the ExCeL, hundreds without a ticket, in the vain hope of getting in fight.
Back in Bray, an estimated 6,000 turned out on the seafront to cheer on their favourite daughter as she faced up to Team GB’s great hope Jonas.
The atmosphere within the ExCeL Centre was truly electric – the British fans have been hugely supportive of all their Olympic athletes, and with some justification – Monday was no exception but they were well out sung by their Irish neighbours whose chants of Olé, Olé, Olé and rendering of The Fields of Athenry’ almost brought the house down.
An International Olympic Committee spokesperson said that during the Jonas v Taylor bout, the decibel level peaked at 113.7 – about the equivalent of an ambulance siren and the highest recorded level at the XXX Olympiad thus far.
I was at the Velodrome last week when the previous record level was set during Team GB’s win in the cycling final but this was even greater.
Within the ExCeL arena it was without doubt the best atmosphere at any fight – male or female – since the boxing programme commenced. There was much of the usual friendly banter between the British and Irish fans as they endeavoured to out sing one another with chants of Team GB and Olé, olé olé.
It was though the quality of the boxing once again that stood out. Many of the fans I spoke with (British and Irish) had been unsuccessful in their bid for tickets to their first love, such as Athletics or Swimming yet without exception they all professed to be “shocked” by the level of skill and commitment displayed by the women boxers in the two days so far. Taylor was almost at her brilliant best and hugely impressed battle hardened British boxing media experts.
What the papers say:
“You would not want to pick an argument with Katie Taylor. That Natasha Jonas did and lost 26-15 to the Irish boxing phenomenon at the Olympics is to her eternal credit.
“It was the bout of the day – and arguably the bout of the tournament so far. The ever-smiling Liverpudlian lightweight can say now that, although she missed an Olympic medal, she traded quality punches on the grandest stage with the best female boxer there has ever been or, possibly, ever will be.
“It is easy to run out of superlatives describing a woman whose hand speed, footwork, power and ring craft are every bit as good as many of her male counterpart.s”
“With a huge Irish contingent in the hall, Taylor had far too much power for the Liverpudlian and was deemed to have won three of the four rounds. The exception was the second, in which Jonas launched a mini comeback, managing to hold Taylor to 5-5. But, with the score now 10-7 in Taylor’s favour, the Bray girl launched a furious third round attack that forced the Liverpudlian into taking a count.”
“Veteran Gaelic games commentator Micheal O’Muircheartaigh was sporting a smile. ‘Can you believe the sound of the crowd when she came out? It was obvious that almost everybody there favoured Katie — in London, fighting against somebody from England. It was amazing, the support she has and the respect there is for her. I had the good luck of meeting her yesterday and she was strolling around casually, taking nothing for granted but ready for anything and everything.'”
London Evening Standard:
“The famed Irish supporters lived up to their name as they roared on their hero in an extraordinary atmosphere. For once at this Olympics a Brit felt like a visiting competitor as Liverpool’s Jonas struggled to contend with the noise and Taylor’s opening combinations right from the start.”
The final word from the boxers:
Natasha Jonas: “I’m not going to make any excuses, she’s still the best, she comes out on top every time,” she said.” I have come here feeling the fittest, the leanest, the healthiest, smartest boxer I could be but she is still the best. I take my hat off to her. There was nothing else I could do. I could’ve thrown the kitchen sink at her or maybe drive a bus into her. I hope she goes on to win it.”
On the British support: “How could you not want to go out there, even if it is against the world champion, and do them proud?” she asked.
“Look, whether it’s Ireland or whether it’s Britain, it doesn’t matter. We’re both in the ring, just there being warrior women, trying to do our best.”
Katie Taylor: “She’s a super boxer and a fantastic person. I had to work so hard. She wasn’t hurt at all. I am just delighted with the win. It’s unbelievable. The atmosphere was incredible today. I just thank God for a great victory, he’s my strength and my shield every time I step into the ring.
“I just tried to stay calm and composed throughout the whole thing really, but it was hard not to get excited at the end. The atmosphere was incredible. I knew the support was going to be great here but I didn’t realise it was going to be so great. It was amazing to box in front of.”
Pleased to be guaranteed a bronze, Katie? “Not really. I’m going for a gold and nothing else. Nobody’s happy with a bronze.”
And so to Wednesday, and semi-finals day. Another packed house no doubt, and another great advertisement for women’s boxing we hope.